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NIGER - Land of Desert and Dreams

South America Journal


Our African Trips:


  • The trip descriptions & itineraries you see on this page serve as examples of some of the best activities and destinations in each country we serve. We do our best at custom-designing trips to our clients' specifications. Please let us know your needs and we'll try and design a trip that will exceed your wildest dreams.
  • Prices are subject to change according to Euro-USD exchange rates and unforseen changes in the rates we're charged in-country.


All of our trips to northern Niger have been canceled for the present due to violence between Tuareg rebel groups and government troops. As it has been reported that land mines have been set in parts of the region, it may be some time before we will be able to offer services there. We are very disappointed in this development, both because of our sadness for the added suffering this causes our friends in Niger and because it may be a long while before we will be able to return to one of our favorite places in the world.

For those of you who would like to experience a similar culture and see parts of the Sahara Desert, our trips to Mali offer an experience comparable to Niger. We continue to offer services to southern Niger, including the Kouré giraffes, Park W, and Niamey.




Monthly departures

A 12 day safari which starts in Entebbe and finishes in Kigali. This safari can also be done on a private basis. [The Bwindi gorilla permit is included in the cost but the other gorilla trackings require a supplement to be paid at time of booking.]A safari that traces the western Rift Valley in the heart of Africa, starting with game viewing on the savannah plains of Queen Elizabeth National Park - elephant, lion, buffalo, hippo, and leopard. Track the fast moving and elusive chimpanzees in Kyambura Gorge. In Ishasha go on the hunt for the tree-climbing lions lounging on old fig trees. See the rich wildlife and array of birds on the Kazinga Channel. Seeing some of the last remaining 700 mountain gorillas in the world is a fantastic experience and this safari takes you to three gorilla parks - Bwindi and Mgahinga in Uganda and PNV in Rwanda. It offers an opportunity to track gorillas five times, twice in Bwindi, once in Mgahinga/Nkuringo, and twice in PNV.

Day 1 MONDAY Arrive at Entebbe Airport, probably the friendliest in Africa, welcomed by a Volcanoes guide. Briefing on the great African adventure. Set off on the southbound road at 10am. On the way see the royal drum makers, stand on the Equator, bargain at the roadside markets. Descend to the Queen Elizabeth National Park, keeping an eye out for game. O/N: Mweya/Jacana (FB).

Day 2 TUESDAY Go for an early morning game drive to seek out wildlife, rest during the heat of the day and then go on an evening game drive. The game seen will depend on the season, the Kasenyi plains are good for lion and the Mweya peninsula for a variety of animals. O/N: Mweya/Jacana (FB).

Day 3 WEDNESDAY An excursion to Kyambura gorge nearby to track the fast moving and elusive chimpanzees, one of man's closest relations. The chimp population is quite mobile and viewing is unpredictable but the walk is enchanting. Alternatively go for a nature walk in Maramagambo Forest to see other primates and to visit the bat cave and the blue lake. In the afternoon take a boat cruise on the Kazinga Channel where the wildlife and a vast array of birds come to drink. O/N: Mweya/Jacana (FB).

Day 4 THURSDAY Start for Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Either drive via Ishasha, home of the tree climbing lion, roads permitting, or take the alternative route through cultivated expanses. Time permitting, go for a guided nature walk. O/N: Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge (FB).

Day 5 FRIDAY Go gorilla tracking (subject to permit availability at time of booking), walking up steep densely forested hills before finally coming across the gorillas camouflaged in the vegetation. An inspiring moment! Tracking in Bwindi requires stamina and can often take most of the day. Alternatively go for a leisurely nature or community walk. O/N: Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge (FB).

Day 6 SATURDAY Either go gorilla tracking again (on payment of supplement at the time of booking subject to permit availability) or go for a guided nature walk in the thick forest rich in birds, butterflies and monkeys. Alternatively go for a stroll around the Lodge or for a community walk. O/N: Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge (FB).

Day 7 SUNDAYLeave for Mgahinga. Make brief stops at places of interest including Kanaba Gap to view the dramatic Virunga volcanoes and the beautiful terraced hills. Proceed, via the frontier town of Kisoro, up the mountain to Mgahinga at 2,300m. O/N: Volcanoes Mount Gahinga Lodge (FB).

Day 8 MONDAYEither go gorilla tracking again, this time in Mgahinga/Nkuringo (on payment of supplement at time of booking), or climb the Muhavura or Gahinga volcanoes, or go for a nature walk or visit golden monkeys in Mgahinga. O/N: Volcanoes Mount Gahinga Lodge (FB).

Day 9 TUESDAYEither relax or walk near the Lodge, or do one of the activities in day 8 in the morning (except gorilla tracking) and transfer to Rwanda after lunch. [Clocks go backward one hour]. Stroll around the Lodge, or simply take in the panoramic sunset over the volcanoes. O/N: Volcanoes Virunga Lodge (FB).

Day 10 WEDNESDAYGo gorilla tracking in Parc National des Volcans (on payment of supplement at time of booking). Tracking gorillas through the light mountain forest on the slopes of the Virungas is a magical experience. If you are lucky you can get to the gorillas, spend an hour with them, and be back at the base in time for a late lunch! Some gorilla families however are more elusive, and tracking can take a full day, especially when it is wet and muddy. O/N: Volcanoes Virunga Lodge (FB).

Day 11 THURSDAY Either go gorilla tracking again in Parc National des Volcans (on payment of supplement at time of booking), or visit the golden monkeys or drive to Gisenyi, visit Ross Carr's orphanage and Lake Kivu or climb the Visoke/Muhavura volcanoes, or trek to Dian Fossey's grave, or visit the local school, community projects or walk to Lake Bulera. O/N: Volcanoes Virunga Lodge (FB).

Day 12 FRIDAY Leave for Kigali. Time permitting, go for a tour of the city including a visit to the market, a pottery project, handicraft shops, the Franco-Rwandan cultural centre and the genocide memorial. Transfer to the airport. (HB).

Bwindi in Uganda has four habituated families and the gorillas there live in thicker tropical forest and tracking is more challenging as the hillsides are steeper. You can also go for nature walks to see birds, monkeys and orchids. Mgahinga, in Uganda, is a great place to appreciate the unique Virunga volcanoes and it has one habituated family. When this group sometimes moves across the border, tracking at Nkuringo in Southern Bwindi is possible. You can also climb a volcano or go for a nature walk, visit the endangered golden monkey or go birding. PNV in Rwanda has five habituated gorilla families and tracking most groups in the afro-montane forest usually takes only a few hours. You can also climb a volcano, visit the remains of Dian Fossey's grave or visit the endangered golden monkey. At the end of the safari fly out from Kigali.

Clients stay 3 nights at Mweya/Jacana, 3 nights at Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge, 2 nights at Volcanoes Mount Gahinga Lodge and 3 nights at Volcanoes Virunga Lodge.

A choice of two safaris can be added at the end - Primates and Birds in Nyungwe Forest (4 days), Wildlife and Birds in Akagera (3 days).

COST: US $7994 per person, sharing a twin room

Single room supplement: as this may vary, please inquire.


1. Prices are valid until 31 December 2007 unless unforeseen circumstances require them to be changed. Prices for 2008 will be published at a later date.

2. Prices are based on exchange rates with the US Dollar in April 2007. Changes in exchange rates may result in changes in trip prices up to 1 month preceeding departure date.

3. Classic Uganda and Rwanda starts in Kampala on Monday and finishes on the following Friday in Kigali.

4. Gorilla permit prices are subject to change without notice.


We had a GREAT time. We had incredible gorilla viewing--also yellow tailed monkeys, tree lions, elephants, warthogs, a hippo in our back yard and more.

We did have a WONDERFUL trip both in Africa and in the Cotswalds. Thank you for your help in connecting us with such a wonderful experience.

Sue Brickey

Rwanda/Uganda - July, 2007





The far north of Cameroon, or “Le Grande Nord,” as the local folks say, is a fascinating and little-known corner of West Africa. Although mentioned in several guidebooks, this area has remained relatively unknown by tourists, especially Americans. Colorful village markets, starkly beautiful landscapes, proud yet warm and friendly people, and a fascinating local culture and history, make this trip one of our best! Waza Park is known as the best big-game park in West Africa, boasting most of the big game species for which East Africa is known, but receiving far fewer visitors. This makes for a much more relaxed, and one of a kind quality experience! However, please be aware that the tourist infrastructure for northern Cameroon is not well developed so accommodations are nice, but basic and some of the roads are in very poor condition.


Day 1 - 2 § US to Douala

Upon arrival you will be met and transferred to the Jet Hotel. Orientation session and then enjoy your first dinner at the hotel. If you wish to refresh yourself after a very long flight, treat yourself to a swim in the pool. Douala is located in the middle of Cameroon's Atlantic coast, a few kilometers inland on the southern shore of the Wouri River (D)

Day 3 § Douala/Yaoundé/night train to Ngaoundéré

Travel to Yaoundé (picnic lunch), visit Mfou National Park and CWAF's gorilla and chimp rehabilitation project near Yaoundé; then board the night train for Ngaoundéré (B,L,D,)

Note: You will be traveling first class on the night train, in the best available accommodations. That said, conditions will not be as comfortable as one might expect for first class. You will share a two or four-bunk sleeper. We will try to get you a two-bunk, but there is no guarantee. Bathrooms are also shared.

Day 4 § Ngaoundéré/Ngaoundaba Ranch

Arrive in the early morning in Ngaoundére where we'll be met by our drivers in 4X4 vehicles and sped off to the beautiful Ngaoundaba Ranch. Relax, swim in the nearby crater lake, or hike around the premises. Enjoy the friendly ambiance and beautiful views, as well as the great food and service! Lounge around the fireplace, share thoughts on the trip so far, and discuss upcoming days.

Day 5 § Ngaoundaba Ranch/Maroua

Enjoy an early morning walk around the lake, then breakfast and departure for Maroua. We'll stop along the way in Ngaoundéré, where we'll visit the Lamido (Moslem chief) of the region and his beautiful palace. We'll also have lunch in Ngaoundéré and then continue on to Maroua. Night at Relais Porte Mayo. (B,L,D)

Day 6 § Maroua/ Maga-Pouss/Waza Park

Early morning departure for Pouss, where we'll visit the market and the museum featuring the traditional huts of the Obus and their customs. Lunch at the Safari ? in Maga and visit the Muzugum fisherman's port on the Logone River. On to the Park National de Waza. Enjoy an evening drive to view wildlife, with the possibility of seeing giraffes, elephants, hippos, lions, sable antelope, warthogs, baboons, monkeys, and many bird species. March thru October is the absolute best time for wildlife viewing, but we still stand a good chance of seeing wildlife during our visit. Overnight at the Waza Campement, with its comfortable boukarous and good food. (B,L,D)

Day 7 § Waza Park/Oudjila/Mokolo

Enjoy an early morning wildlife tour of the Park, then depart for the Podoko of D'Oudjila, whose animist chief has 40 wives and more than 150 children. Visit his house to learn more about animist beliefs and customs. Continuing onward you'll arrive in Mokolo, the center of the Mafa people. Wednesday is the big market day for the Mafa people of the Mokolo area. They come down from their mountain villages to sell their local craft and produce (millet, peanuts, beans, traditional oil), and also to buy provisions to take back to the mountains (soap, salt, matches, fish, etc.). Overnight at the Campement Flamboyant Hotel, the most comfortable in town just off the main road in the center of town. Traditional Cameroonian food for dinner! (B,L,D)

Day 8 § Mokolo/Tourou/Rhumsiki

Depart in the early morning for the Thursday market in Tourou, where the Hide and Gre wear calabash hats, reminding one of soldiers with their helmets. These hats contain markings which provide information such as whether the woman is married and whether she has children. This is a typical traditional small market of northern Cameroon, with a beautiful view over the savannah to Nigeria. Continue on to Rhumsiki, with its moonscape terrain of ancient volcanic "needles", and the home of the Margui or Kapsiki people. Overnight at the Campement of Rhumsiki, one of the more upscale places with nice views and comfortable air-conditioned boukarous. Keep in mind that air conditioning and electricity may not always work in Cameroon. (B,L,D)

Day 9 § Rhumsiki/Gamba

After breakfast, you'll go trekking in the Mandara Mountains. Approximately 5 hours of hiking will bring you to Gamba. Here you will pass by the villages of Gova and Kila, in the heart of Kirdi country. The Kirdi are known to be staunchly animist, refusing to be "islamized" by Moslem immigrants. Spend the night in Gamba with families in traditional Margui huts. There is no electricity, bath is by bucket, no modern toilet, and sleeping is on a grass mat or sleeping pad (if you bring one). If you do not wish to do the trek, you may opt to stay in Rhuminsiki. Optional activities for those who choose to stay in Rhumsiki are seeing traditional pottery demonstrations, visiting a local school, traditional bronze working in the village of Amsa, or visiting the small village market at Mogode where the Lamidat de Kapsiki (traditional regional chief of the Kapsiki region) resides (B,L,D)

Day 10 § Rhumsiki/Garoua

Depart for Garoua, passing through numerous villages which have changed little over the last centuries. Rest stop at the dam at Dzahoura, where you'll have a beautiful view across the border into Nigeria. Special surprise lunch! Overnight in Garoua at the Relais St. Hubert. (B,L,D)

Day 11 § Garoua/Ngaoundaba Ranch

Travel to Ngaoundaba Ranch, with stop in Ngaoundéré for lunch. Relax in comfort again at the Ranch and have the opportunity for an afternoon swim &/or hike. (B,L,D)

Day 12 § Ngaoundaba/night train

Morning walk, swim, boat ride, or just relax on the veranda. Good chance that monkeys will pay you a visit! Afternoon departure for Ngaoundéré and the night train to Yaoundé. (B,L)

Day 13 § Night train/Yaoundé/Kribi

Arrive in Yaoundé in the early morning; leisurely breakfast and then off to Kribi, a beautiful seaside village. Installation at Jully Hotel, lunch at hotel, then relax on the beach for the pm. Dinner & night at Jully Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 14 § Kribi/Douala/Departure

Options of just relaxing or heading down the coast to visit a Pygmy village and have a fresh seafood lunch on the beach; then its back in the car for the drive to Douala and the airport for your flight home.

Cost: $4500 per person, double accomodation; single supplement $250

(Minimum of 6 people required; DreamWeaver owner Dudley Parkinson will co-lead this trip, along with Cameroonian friend and collaborator, Laurent ZRA)

Includes meals as indicated (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner), all lodging and transportation, guides, mineral water, park fees

Does not include international airfare, passport and visa fees, travel insurance, alcoholic and soft beverages, tips, and personal purchases.

Note: Please be aware that this trip is rugged in that accommodations are basic, though clean and charming, in outlying areas. Don't count on having hot water or electricity daily. Roads are very, very rough and some days may involve a lot of driving. Choose this trip only if you wish a very unique cultural exprience and are willing to put up with some inconveniences.



Dear Dudley,

Our trip to Cameroon was superb! Laurent's management skills are remarkable in an environment where everything is subject to change or breakdown or delay. He was organized and thorough in making realistic arrangements that usually worked out, and was quick to come up with alternative plans on the few occasions when something unforseen occurred.

We did stay overnight with the Manfo family near Dschang, and consider it to be one of the best parts of our trip to Cameroon. They welcomed us warmly, tried hard to make us comfortable, gave us a tour of the village, and prepared a feast to share with us and the many neighbors and relatives who came to greet us.

Waza Park was another highlight of our time in Cameroon. Given the season, we had limited expectations for viewing big animals, but hoped to at least see two or three. Instead, we saw several groups of giraffe, some warthogs, domilesque, and after 2 hours of cross-country tracking, caught up to a herd of over 200 elephants! Our video of the elephants is breathtaking.

South of Bandjoun, we stopped at the compound of the chief of the region (a spur-of-the-moment choice by Laurent), and it happened to be the day that the massive straw roof of the assembly hall was being replaced, an event that most members of the community would witness only once or possibly twice in their lifetime. Meeting the king and visiting the museum were background events to the thrill of watching teams of men hoist bundles of straw to the heights of the roof and work them into place, and hearing them burst into deep cadances of song echoing between the men on the roof and those on the ground.

.... you and Laurent did a great job of planning according to the information I shared with you about our interests in nature and culture. We are happy to recommend DreamWeaver to anyone wanting to travel to West Africa, and we hope you will stay in touch and let us know how your business is developing.

Thanks again, and all best,

Nancy Fleisher

Nashville, TN



Dear DreamWeaver Travel,

"I am highly impressed by Laurent's professionalism and thoroughness in organising every aspect of my travel in Cameroon so efficiently. He had thought of and planned for every aspect of my visit extremely well. I rate Laurent right up there among the very best tour leaders I have spent time with on trips I have made to East and southern Africa, and I recommend him highly to any other prospective visitor to Cameroon.

To be honest, I was slightly concerned myself that when I arrived in Douala things might not work out quite as planned - as you say, one never knows in Africa - but Laurent was there to meet me on schedule and he facilitated all of the arrangements to make my trip a truly memorable one. I was truly impressed at how he had thought of everything. ------------------------------------------

Best regards, Rod

Dr. Rod East
Deputy Chief Executive (Operations)
NIWA (National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research)
Hamilton, New Zealand




Often referred to as "Africa in miniature," Cameroon is one of the most diverse countries in Africa, hosting a myriad of ethnic and language groups, truly varied climatic and geographical conditions, and fascinating traditional culture and history.

From the Sahara to the equatorial grasslands to the highest mountain in West Africa, Cameroon is also full of wonderful, welcoming people. What often sets Cameroonians apart from even other Africans is their zest for life and their open curiosity regarding people from other parts of the world.

Among the least known groups in Africa are the Pygmies, who live in the remaining areas of equatorial rainforest and many of whom still retain their traditional lifestyle despite encroaching roads and logging operations. There is still a vast area of Eastern Cameroon where Pygmies and forest elephant, chimpanzees and gorillas, orchids and hundred-foot mahogany trees all live in a symbiotic harmony.

"Large hornbills are almost everywhere, resplendent great plantain eaters perch within a short distance, and a rich and varied cast of monkeys hesitate between curiosity and caution. But the elusive western lowland gorillas keep out of our way, taking advantage of the dense vegetation. Their droppings now and then indicate a popular route, and a circular space with flattened vegetation is a silent allusion to the massive size of a silverback male.

Together with Boumba Bek, this proposed rainforest reserve may be one of the best preserved parts of the Congo-Basin - Africa's largest rainforest. WWF is collaborating with the Cameroon government to keep it that way.

The south-eastern part of Cameroon, close to the Central African Republic, the Congo and Gabon, has a third proposed reserve: Lobeke. Still rich in wildlife, it is an example of the dangers that Nki and Boumba Bek may be facing: human activity that has gone out of control. Logging and poaching go hand in hand here, disturbing the lives of Baka pygmies, other traditional local groups and wildlife.

There is goodwill to get this protected area project to do what we want it to do. We can then develop a major ecotourist initiative which would also provide local people with alternatives to the bush meat and forest industries. We have an excellent chance of success...."

from WWF's Forests for Life website www.panda.org/forests4life/

At the beginning and end of this trip there is time set aside to relax - at the beach , wandering around a quaint seaside village, or shopping for West African handicrafts.


  • Day 1 - Douala-Limbe: Arrive Douala; welcome and travel to Limbe; Hotel Miramane. Limbe is a beautiful, English-speaking village on the beach, about 80 kilometers from Douala. Dinner and one night.
  • Day 2 - Limbe: Relaxing day in Limbe, exploring, resting, and preparing for trip; visit Limbe Wildlife Center
  • Day 3 - Limbe-Kumba-Mundemba: Early morning breakfast, then visit to Limbe Botanical Gardens, pass by recent volcanic deposits from eruptions of Mt. Cameroon last March 28. On to Buea, at the base of Mt. Cameroon, passing by coffee, banana, rubber, and pineapple plantations. Lunch in Kumba and on to Mundemba, dinner and one night at Hotel Yassa.
  • Day 4 - Mundemba-Korup National Park: Breakfast; leave for Korup, wildlife and vegetation tour; Picnic lunch; local English-speaking guide/naturalist accompanies Korup tour, the length of which depends on your preference. Dinner and one night in Park in huts built and maintained by WWF.
  • Day 5 - Korup National Park-Mundemba-Douala: Breakfast; travel to Douala, dinner and one night at Hotel Fatime in Douala
  • Day 6 - Douala-Yaounde-Bertoua (very long day!): Early morning breakfast; lunch in Yaounde; dinner and one night at Hotel Mansa in Bertoua.
  • Day 7 - Bertoua-Yokadouma: Breakfast in Bertoua; picnic lunch on the way; dinner and one night at Hotel Yokadouma
  • Day 8-13 - Camping in Pygmy (Baka) village(s); tours of forest environment; search for plant and animal life of equatorial rain forest
  • Day 14 - Yokadouma-Bertoua: Breakfast; picnic lunch on the way; dinner and one night at Hotel Mansa in Bertoua; possible exhibition of local traditional dance (Beti Bikoutsi dance)
  • Day 15 - Bertoua-Yaounde: Breakfast; picnic lunch en route; dinner and one night at Hotel des Deputes
    Note: from this point on, transportation will be by public transport: bus, bush taxi, and city taxies.
  • Day 16 - Yaounde-Kribi: Breakfast; drive to Kribi; lunch at Hotel Framotel; BEACH!!
  • Day 17 - Kribi: Visit Lobe Falls; motor pirogue ride on Lobe River to visit Bagyeli Pygmy camp. Duration of stay depends on your preference. BEACH!!
  • Day 18 - Kribi-Douala: Morning beachin'; travel to Douala; craft shopping in Douala; airport for departure

    Cost: $3350 per person; includes transportation; guide; park fees; all road tolls and taxes; hotels; camping; all breakfasts, lunches, and dinners; mineral water; pirogue ride in Kribi

    Not included: international airfare, travel insurance, passport and visa fees, soft drinks or alcohol; tips; entry to Limbe Wildlife Center and Botanical Gardens; souvenirs and gifts

    Preferred Season - November through March

    Please contact us for custom-designed adventures!



Dear Dudley,

I've been very pleased with DreamWeaver Travel's service and would highly recommend it to other Africa bound travelers. Dudley Parkinson took a personal interest in helping me accomplish my travel plans and did his utmost to make my trip a safe and memorable adventure. His attention to detail made it possible for me to experience much of the beauty and wonder of Cameroon.

best regards,


 Greg Culp




Gabon & Central African Republic

Gorilla Tour, 13-, 15- or 20-day itinerary (from Libreville, Gabon)

One of Central Africa’s best kept secrets, that’s what they call the Dzanga-Sangha Reserve in the south of the Central African Republic. This breathtaking reserve is home to large mammals such as forest elephants, forest buffalos, large boars, gorillas and forest antelopes, in densities described as unique. Continue your adventure in Loango National Park, Gabon, also named “Africa’s Last Eden”, where dense rainforests meet endless wild beaches and dark-watered rivers sustaining an extraordinary array of wildlife. End this extraordinary journey on the island of São Tomé & Príncipe, a place where dense rainforests teem with exotic birds, where whales sport playfully off unspoiled, deserted beaches, where crystal-clear waterfalls cascade into the azure blue ocean, and where the people are, above all, friendly and happy to meet you. • Track a habituated group of western lowland gorillas in the Congo Basin; • Observe 30-100 timid forest elephants in the wild from a platform at a clearing in the jungles of the Dzanga-Sangha Reserve; • Get to know the secret culture of the BaAka pygmies on a net hunting outing; • Visit a gorilla sanctuary in Gabon and meet the team behind its efforts; • Accompanied by expert guides, take walking safaris, boat and kayak excursions, and game drives in open four-wheel-drive vehicles in Loango National Park. • Explore the island of São Tomé & Príncipe, where it is so easy to feel like the first ever explorer setting foot on the island. Or simply relax on the secluded beaches of the resort.



Day 1: Tuesday – Arrival in Libreville, Gabon Upon arrival at Libreville International Airport, a representative of Africa’s Eden will meet you and bring you to your hotel. He or she will help you with the customs procedures and collecting of your luggage. Please note that you will need to show your vaccination booklet. After that you will be brought to the Hotel Le Méridien. You can spend the evening as you like; there is no organised programme. If you would like to go out for dinner, the "Quartier Louis" is Libreville's most lively neighbourhood with many restaurants. In addition, Tropicana (near the airport) is also a good spot for a nice dinner or a relaxing drink by the sea. Lodging: Hotel le Méridien, Libreville

Day 2 -4: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday - Dzanga-Sangha Reserve, C.A.R In the morning you will be picked up from your hotel and brought to the airport for your Africa’s Connection flight to Bayanga, which will take approximately 2 hours. In Bayanga, the Doli Lodge staff will help you with your luggage and drive you to the lodge where you will have some time to settle into your room before having lunch in the restaurant, on a terrace above the river. After lunch, the group will be divided into smaller groups for the programme in and around the Dzanga-Sangha Reserve. All forest activities are accompanied by trained guides who speak French and also some English. On the next page you will find a description of the excursions.

Gorilla Tracking (1 x half day) At sunrise, a team of researchers and pygmy trackers leaves the camp of Bai Hokou to find the nest where the gorillas slept the previous night. As soon as this nest site is found, the team then follows the traces left by the gorillas while moving on and feeding. To do this, one takes elephant paths and narrow trails. Sometimes it takes one or two hours before establishing contact with the gorillas. Once the position is known, it is communicated to the camp by radio so the relief team can set off in the right direction. Encountering the gorillas is not guaranteed, but in previous years nearly 90% of those taking part in this activity have seen gorillas in close proximity.

Observing Forest Elephants (2 visits) To observe the timid forest elephant in the wild is an experience usually reserved to a limited circle of researchers. At the clearing (saline) of Dzanga Bai in Dzanga-Sangha, visitors have this chance. Early in the morning, as the grey parrots alight at the Dzanga Bai to savour the mineral-rich grass, emitting their extensive repertoire of whistles and squawks, the first elephants have already laid claim to their choice watering-holes. From the platform you can observe them while they feed, drink, engage in games of (social) rank and maintain their social bonds. More than 3000 individual elephants have been identified visiting the saline of Dzanga Bai. At the same time, the open clearing allows you to observe other species typically found in the Reserve: sitatunga, buffalo and sometimes bongos, boars and storks.

Hiking around the Saline (1 x - duration dependant on group) By taking elephant paths you are led to these animals’ favoured spots. Often these are clearings and saline, traversed by streams, and kept open by the elephants. With a bit of luck you will not only see elephants and buffalo, but also bongos, monkeys and traces of other animals. The sounds, smells and luminous green of the vegetation create a very unique atmosphere.

Net hunting with Pygmies (1 x half day) Accompany the BaAka pygmies hunting and help with carving up of the game, let the BaAka women show you the medicinal and other plants of use, taste a typical dish of liana leaves with a sauce made from forest nuts, watch how they construct in the forest, in no time at all, a hut to protect against the rain. Getting to know this secret culture is an experience few have known.

Music & Dance (Evening) The essence of the BaAka culture, which has been preserved over the millennia, is mainly expressed in music and dance, serving to maintain their bonds with their gods, spirits and ancestors. Each singer and percussionist chooses his or her own rhythm resulting in a wonderful array of harmony. This universe of movement, rhythm and sound is very difficult to describe – you have to experience it for real.

Visit to Bayanga Village (1 visit) The best way to get a glimpse of daily life in Bayanga is a visit to the village with one of our guides. People are more than happy to show you around in their small shops and if you’re lucky they will demonstrate how they produce homemade palm oil wine. The local bar has a nice view over the Sangha River and is a good place to get a taste of the Bayanga spirit. Presentation by WWF (evening) The Dzanga-Sangha Reserve is both extremely beautiful and extremely delicate, the latter due to mining and logging activities in the area, and the fact that natural resources are an important food source for the local population. WWF is the main conservation organisation in the Reserve, and is more than pleased to share their knowledge with you on the protected areas and their activities in the region. Lodging: Doli Lodge

Day 5: Saturday

Flight to Evengué On Saturday after an early breakfast, the Doli Lodge staff will bring you to the airstrip at Bayanga, where the private charter plane departs, first to Port Gentil, and then from Port Gentil to Omboué. After a short stop for customs in Port Gentil, you will arrive in Omboué in the afternoon. In Omboué, our Evengue Lodge staff will help with your luggage. In a 20-minute boat trip you will be taken to Evengué, a small island just outside Loango National Park where the Fernan-Vaz Gorilla Sanctuary is situated, which is sponsored by Africa’s Eden. During your stay on Evengué Island, our experts of the Fernan-Vaz Gorilla Project will share their knowledge with you on the bush meat crisis and other reasons why gorillas are a critically endangered species, and they will give you information about the Fernan-Vaz Gorilla Sanctuary and Rehabilitation & Reintroduction Programme. Afterwards one of the guides will accompany you on a short bush walk leading to the gorilla family in the sanctuary. Lodging: Evengué Lodge

Day 6: Sunday – Mpivié River to Loango Lodge After breakfast, you will start the boat trip up the dark waters of the Mpivié River to Loango Lodge. En route, there will be time to visit the small town of Ste. Anne, where Gustav Eiffel built an iron church in the late 1800s. After the visit to Ste. Anne, the trip will continue up the Mpivié River that from there runs through some very dense rainforest. This is a perfect opportunity to sit back and enjoy the breathtaking views. Monkeys, crocodiles and all kinds of birds (Hartlaub’s ducks, finfoots and fishing owls in particular) can be seen. After approximately 2 hours, the boat will be exchanged at the end of the river for a 4x4 jeep that will drive to the lodge within 45 minutes. Upon arrival at Loango Lodge you will be welcomed with refreshments and shown to your room. (A late) Lunch will be served in the restaurant. Depending on the time of arrival, it might still be possible to make a first visit to Loango National Park by boat or by 4x4. Lodging: Loango Lodge Click here to get the detailed travel itinerary for 2009 and 2010.

Day 7 & 8: Monday, Tuesday - Tassi/ Akaka region (depending on the season)

Tassi region* After breakfast, one of our 4x4 jeeps will take you south-west to the Tassi / Louri area (approx. 1.5 hours). During this drive, animals such as elephants, red river hogs, buffalos, birds and sitatunga (a swamp-dwelling antelope) can be seen. Tassi Camp is situated on the savannah, surrounded by primary and secondary forest. Take the 4x4 and visit the research camp of the Max Planck Institute in Tassi Sud, 30 minutes from Tassi Camp. From here, the researchers go into the forest to carry out studies amongst the shy, elusive gorillas and chimpanzees. This also acclimatises the animals gradually to the presence of humans in the vicinity. In the future, this habituation programme will allow a controlled form of tourism to track and view the gorillas and chimpanzees, while at the same time allowing researchers to gather data on all aspects of their behaviour and ecology. From Tassi you can easily go on excursions to Louri, where there is a good chance of seeing buffalos and elephants on the beach: a truly remarkable sight and characteristic of Loango National Park. On rare occasions, even hippos can be seen. Lodging: Tassi Savannah Camp

* Tassi Savannah Camp is open all year round, however, during the rainy season, elephants and buffalos often roam freely on the beach.

Akaka region* After breakfast, the boat departs for a 4-hour journey south to Akaka. After crossing some large lagoons, you will arrive at the Rembo Ngowe River, where you will spend the last 1.5 hours. During the trip you might encounter birds, elephants, buffalos and sitatunga (swamp-dwelling antelopes), possibly even bathing in the river. Akaka is one of the most remote parts of Loango National Park. The Akaka forests thrive with butterflies and are home to a number of rare bird species. The bush camp is situated on the riverbank in the heart of the tropical rainforest and the wetlands. At times, the wildlife, especially elephants, passes right through the camp. Akaka is a good starting point for excursions like forest walks, or trips by kayak or motorboat along the Rembo Ngowe and Rembo Echira rivers. In the dry season, the concentrations of particularly forest buffalo and forest elephant that migrate into the area are easily seen. Smaller mammals like sitatunga, red river hogs, forest duikers, five species of monkey and great apes inhabit the area all year round. Lodging: Akaka Bush Camp

* Akaka Bush Camp is open all year round, however, during the rainy season, the staff will determine if it possible to go on either a day trip or an overnight trip, depending on the weather conditions and number of tsee tsee flies, mosquitoes and other insects.

Day 9: Wednesday – Safari possibilities in Loango National Park, transfer to Pte. Ste. Cathérine

This morning, you will have time to discover some other parts of Loango National Park. Some of the possibilities include: • Game drives Game drives in a 4x4 jeep are an easy and comfortable way to view the park and see wildlife such as buffalo, elephant, red river hogs and sitatunga. In the rainy season from November to April, you can find large mammals roaming freely on the beach.

• Walking Safaris You can venture out with one of our eco-guides into the forest. On foot is one of the best ways to learn more about the diversity of the park. You can encounter wildlife such as elephants and buffalo, but even more so, discover the more inconspicuous forest animals and birds.

• Cultural Walks From the lodge, you can go on a cultural walk to the nearby village or the “Operation Loango” school, which is sponsored by Africa’s Eden’s sister company “Société de Conservation et Développement”.

• Whale Watching* From mid-July to mid-September, humpback whales visit the coastline of Loango National Park. Go out on a boat with our skipper to look for these impressive, playful mammals.

* Please note that sightings cannot be guaranteed and this excursion is not included in the package price of this programme.

• Fishing * The point where the lagoon empties into the ocean contains some of the largest game fish in the world, making it an ideal spot for fishing – and only 10 minutes by boat from Loango Lodge!

* Please note that this excursion is not included in the package price of this programme.

• Presentation / Dinner with the Wildlife Conservation Society researchers Loango Lodge is base camp for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). WCS is engaged in a collaborative venture with SCD (Societé de Conservation et Développement) in Loango National Park, a unique effort to bring the private sector and an international NGO together to achieve a series of key conservation activities. WCS is partly funded by Africa's Eden tourism revenues and is active in conservation, monitoring, surveillance, and research activities in the park, all aimed at maintaining the long-term integrity of this ‘window into the past’. The researchers are happy to give a presentation about their activities in Gabon, and/or simply to chat about what they do over drinks / dinner. In the afternoon, a short boat tour over the lagoon takes you to the Pointe Sainte Cathérine Beach Camp. This basic camp is situated at a beautiful spot on the beach in the north of Loango National Park. Beach walks, collecting shells and fishing are amongst the possibilities. You can also simply relax here, with one of the most beautiful beaches on earth all to yourself. As the sun sets, dine in the restaurant, on the lounge deck, or enjoy a feet-in-the-sand beach barbeque affair. During the rainy season, from November to April, Pte. Ste. Cathérine sunsets are even better than usual. Lodging: Pte. Ste. Cathérine Beach Camp

Day 10 - 12: Thursday, Friday, Saturday – Príncipe

In the morning, the Africa’s Connection plane will fly via Port-Gentil to Príncipe airport, where the Bom Bom staff will be waiting to meet you. You will arrive in Bom Bom Island Resort in the afternoon. Before dinner, you will have time to settle into your room, have a swim in the pool or the ocean, or simply to relax and enjoy a cocktail. While Bom Bom is a wonderful place to relax and recharge your spirit, there is also plenty there to explore and discover in the next few days:

Hiking: Circumnavigate Bom Bom Island by foot, and discover its beautiful rock pools with their own ecosystems varying from one pool to the next. Or go on a leisurely hike through the forest to experience the sounds of the jungle and catch glimpses of a Mona monkey or the African grey parrot.

Kayaking: Let our guides introduce you to kayaking on the calm waters around Bom Bom Island, then kayak out to the ruins of the old church from the first Portuguese settlement on Príncipe 400 years ago.

Diving: Discover the underwater world of Bom Bom! São Tomé and Príncipe, both ancient volcanic islands, are home to some of the world’s most spectacular rock formations, above and below the waterline. With drop-offs of over 35 metres, overhangs and cascading boulders, there is plenty of sea life here to keep you coming back for more!

Whale Watching*: From mid-July to mid-September, humpback whales visit the waters around Bom Bom as they migrate from their low-latitude summer feeding grounds to more tropical mating and calving areas. *) Please note that sightings cannot be guaranteed and this excursion is not included in the cost of this programme. Lodging: Bom Bom Island Resort

Day 13 - Sunday – Flight to Libreville, Gabon In the morning you can enjoy a final stroll on the beach and recollect your experiences of these two weeks. In the late afternoon you will be brought to the airport for your return flight to Libreville, Gabon, from where you will connect to your international flight. Please check in two hours in advance for you international flight.


Start Libreville (based on arrival with Air France or Royal Air Maroc)

Departure dates: 7 feb/25 july/15 Aug/12 Dec

All Seasons 2010, Africa's Best Kept Secret Tour, 13 days - $8994; Single Surplus $1135



Jan. 5-19, 2011


Although the centerpoint of this trip is the Festival in the Desert in Essakane, the itinerary also includes more well-known Mali attractions such as Dogon country, Djenne, and Timbuctu. Billed as the "most remote music festival in the world" the Festival is a three-day Afro-pop powwow held by the Tuareg, the traditionally nomadic "blue people" of the Sahara. It's a tribe often feared for the banditry of its rebels and respected for the fact that it has never really been conquered. Combining traditional Tuareg music and dance, camel races, and competitions during the day, the Festival comes alive at night with modern Malian music, which is becoming popular the world over from incorporation into music as diverse as that of Robert Plant and Paul Simon. This is truly a one-of-a-kind experience!



Day 1: Bamako

Arrival at Bamako and transfer to hotel. Free dinner and overnight. Hotel Tamana (B)

Day 2: Bamako - Mopti

Transfer to Mopti. Stop in Segou and visits (visits will be spread in d.2 and d.14) Dinner and O/N at Hotel Y a pas de Problèmes (B, D)

Founded in 1852, Segou, keeper of one of the most ancient histories of West Africa, capital of the ancient Bambara kingdom, has an undeniable charm which is well worth discovering. Ancient kingdom of culture and tradition, Segou has inspired numerous writers and historians. Among the most famous is Maryse Condé. Segou is also the site where Mungo Park, the first European in modern times, gazed upon the Niger River. When he arrived he 'fell to his knees, thanked God, and drank from the muddy water.' (Mark Jenkins, To Timbuktu) .

Day 3: Mopti - Timbuktu

Transfer to Timbutku through Gourma Region. Hotel Azalai or sim. (B, L, D)

The Gourma region spreads out between Douentza and Timbuktu, a region known for its desert steppes. Thanks to its micro-climate, protected by the Niger River which frames it for the 2 / 3 part, the region is a land of savannas mixed with dunes. In the Gourma region we could meet a lot of Fulani, Tuareg and Bella (ancient slaves) camps). When we reach the Gandamia Mountains, we will visit a tiny village hidden in the mountains.


Day 4 - Timbuctu - Essakane

visit Timbuktu and transfer to Essakane for the Festival

Days 4-6: Essakane Festival

Free days to attend the festival full board O/N bush camp in tents (B, L, D)

It is far away to time when travellers were martyrized on the way to Timbuktu: " To begin from the top: I have five saber cuts on the crown of the head and three on the left temple, all fractures from which much bone has come away, one on my left cheek which fractured the jaw bone and has divided the ear… " (Major Gordon Laing). Nevertheless, Timbuktu is still a myth. A myth can be disappointing. In the XIX cent: " I looked around and found that the sight before me did not answer my expectations. I had formed a totally different idea of the grandeur and wealth of Timbuktu… " (René Caillié) In the XX cent: "For some people, when you say 'Timbuktu, it is like the end of the world, but that is not true. I am from Timbuktu, and I can tell you we are right at the heart of the world." ( Ali Farka Toure) Better to undress all the expectations and to walk in the sandy streets… Djingereber Mosque, built in the 14th century, the oldest clay building in Africa, … houses in clay and gray stones arriving from the area surrounding the city… small markets with few dry vegetables, some slabs of salt, a lot of leather crafts. At sunset the sky is still " pale red as far as the horizon " like at the Caillié's time and the town regains the vivacity that it has never lost. Rich merchants, elegant women, smiling kids walk in the street and socialize. Timbuktu is still today the major "caravan terminal" of all the Sahara, beyond any postcard cliché. There are several Timbuktu, says B.Chatwin: the one in the reality and the one in our dreams. The visit of the town is difficult because visitors would like to be confirmed in the dreams which they have about the town, instead of taking and appreciating what they meet. It is true that the town can be disappointing: Mud and dust every where; kids running after the tourists and begging attention and money. And the local tour guides are "masterized" on tourist tour of the town. They show always the same things to every body. So, as result of that, there is an other partition of the reality in Timbuktu: the own which is shown to the tourists and the one, real, where local people live, work, enjoy the life.

Days 7 - 8: Cruise on Niger River

Transfer by 4x4 from Essakane to Nianfounke and cruise on pinasse (covered dugout pirogue) from Nianfounke to Konna 1 O/N on bush camp 1 O/N Hotel at Mopti, Y a pas de problèmes Full board

Two days of navigation on the River on a big covered pinasse, (local large pirogue) through the most interesting part of the internal delta of the Niger. In this region at the edge between savannah and desert the immense water basin is divided into hundreds of branches, lakes and ponds: a vast "spider web". Villages are inhabited by Fulani, Bozo and Songhai, some reachable only by pirogue. Beautiful adobe architecture strikes the eyes: the mosques with a "personalized" style to each of the ethnic groups… the homes built along the water courses… the tiny fishermen shelters on small islands… the rangy canoes with a unique shape. At the halfway point the river turns into the huge Lake Debo: a paradise for fishermen and shepherds. The shallow water hosts enough fish to feed the region. And when the level goes down, green grass feed uncountable herds of local zebu cattle . We say water and mean also birds, some of them coming from Europe to escape the winter. At sunset millions of weavers fly in flocks, composing strange figures, seeming to "dance" in the sky. Lunch on board. Dinner and O/N bush camp in tents

Day 9: Mopti - Dogon cliff

Mopti city tour Transfer to the Bandiagara cliff Dinner and O/N in tents at Campement (B, L, D)

The town of Mopti is built on three islands where the Bani and Niger rivers converge. The town is alive with the different cultures in the region: Bozo fishermen, Dogon, Bambara and Bella farmers, Tuareg and Peul herders. The market and the harbor are saturated with all colors and smells. Part of the harbor is occupied by a traditional workshop where artisans build the "pinasse", starting with the production of nails and finishing with colorful paintings on the sides of the boats. As trade point Mopti is important also for art objects from the region, including a great variety of beads and jewellery. Dinner and O/N at hotel


Day 10: Dogon cliff trekkings and Dogon dancing masks

Dinner and O/N in tents at Campement (B, L, D)

A path across stones and some millets (" a path… ? ") reaches a hidden village. A dozen people live in an open cave… some adobe dwellings… a spring in the middle… fresh water nourishing generations of lucky families…. Beside the spring the house of Hogon (the high priest) displaying fetishes and trophies. Two items reunited in one single activity: hunting, privilege of a special cast, and challenge to wild forces of the nature, needing spiritual protection. The voice of people resonates in the cave, and from there to the rest of the valley. The soft light of sunset design long shades in the fields. Time to set up the camp; soon stars will light the sky; Sirius starts pulsing. The knowledge of the Dogon concerning Sirius has preceded modern astronomy. Sirius A, Sirius B, Sirius C are part of local myths, basement of a 60 years calendar. Now, the silence of the night shortens the distances… the visitors feel to be closer to this amazing world…. Also Sirius seems to be closer. In the afternoon dancing masks. Dogon masks have deep eyes, framed by vertical and parallel lines. A kind of rectangular box looking at you from another world. Pure cubist art, with on top of all, the soul of a population living in communion with the spirits of their ancestors, nature, stars. They dance al together in a circle, accompanied by drums. Afterwards, group-by-group, they run in the ring and start dancing every one with his peculiar movements. Just men stand in front of the masks. Women stay away, on the clay roofs of surrounding houses. Even if a taboo for them, they do not want to miss the performance. Masks are related with death and funerals; women are related with birth and life. They have opposite and complementary roles. Better to avoid any unfortunate clash.

Day 11: Dogon flat land

Last trekking of Dogon cliff and exploration of Dogon villages on flat land Dinner and O/N in tents at Campement (B, L, D)

A brief excursion on foot will lead us in a tiny village hidden in a huge cave in the escarpment, and not even indicated on the maps. We will meet the Ogon, the great priest. The Ogon's house, half home and half cave, is an important shrine for the hunters' cult: from the wall stick out animal skulls, ritual objects and wooden statues that carry recent traces of sacrifice… A water spring in a crack of the rock allows the complete autonomy of this magic village, protected from all external looks. The landscape is characterized more and more by huge millet fields. They provide food for large villages communities. They are inhabited by Dogon, on a flat land dominated, far away, by the famous Bandiagara escarpment. This flat land has been populated for the last century. Dogon, looking for land, moved from the cliff back to the low land. The links to their original villages: giant granaries with an anthropomorphic façade, looking at the visitors (they seem to say: " Be careful… we saw you coming… "); Togu'na (men shelters) with carved pillars representing the ancestors figures are settled in middle of the village, silent witness of a long history and rare example of tribal art still in its natural frame; old bearded figures walking in the dusty paths or sitting in the Togu'na. Generous enthusiasm accompanies every new visitor.

Day 12: Dogon cliff

Bandiagara exploration of Dogon plateau; Htl La Falaise or sim. (B, L, D)

On the "plateau" the main color is the gray of the stones, broken by the green of the onions fields, along the ponds and rivers. Dogon are tough farmers: during the raining season the farm millet, and during the dry season it is the turn of the onions. The visit of the cave beautifully painted with design made of the classical cosmogonic colours of African people (white, red and black) will allow us to receive a esaurient explanation about the initiation rites that every 3 years take place in this natural amphitheatre. We will visit also the hidden locations of a fortified village, perfectly camouflaged in the rocky countryside, one of the more astonishing examples of African architecture.

Day 13): Bandiagara - Djenne

Djenne city tour Hotel Campement or Maafir or sim. (B, D)

Djenne, the most beautiful and genuine example of Sudanese adobe architecture. The story houses of rich traders families, the Koranic schools, the mosque -that is also the biggest building out of clay in the world- make together a unique inhabited center in the world. Some details deserve special attention: the technique used to built the roofs, the setting of the rooms in the houses, the Morocco style windows, the Toucoulors gates, the rounded and the square bricks dating the time before and after the beginning of the .... colonization. In Djenne we understand that a mason can be an artist. These artists, here in Djenne, are called "barrey". They work just with hands. No tools. Like sculptors. The oldest among them replace the work of the hands with the pronunciation of magic spell, able to support the house, even in case of danger. To build a house like an artist, to protect it like a priest. Here is a "barrey". No way to understand Djenne without crossing the path of one of them. We will reach Djenne the market day… everybody will dress up with its best ethnic costumes. A colourful crowd will invade the town arriving by horse, by carriage, by pirogue, by camel, in roaring bush taxi…

Day 14: Djenne - Segou

Stops on the way to visit Bobo and Bambara villages. Segou, end of city tour (see day 2) Hotel Indépendance or sim (B, D)


Day 15: Segou - Bko out

Breakfast and departure to Bamako; City tour; ONE day use room for last shower; Transfer to airport and end of services (B)

Bamako, the capital. The administrative buildings have the marks of beautiful Neo-Sudanese style. The museum is the best ethnographic museum in West Africa. Its great collection displaying the beauty of African shapes contains ancient art objects of astonishing beauty. We will admire masks, ritual sculptures, archeological terracotta's, textiles, musical instruments, tools, and traditional weapons…

Medical: Vaccination against yellow fever is compulsory. The prophylaxis against malaria is recommended

Net rates: Price per person for a group of minimum of 4 travelers: In dbl room/tent: Price: $4000 Extra charge for sgl : $585

Included: English speaking guide, Vehicles - one 4x4 with no ac; "pinasse"- traditional boat with engine, with roof during cruise on the Niger River. Cook on board for two lunches and one dinner. · Meals and accommodations as mentioned · At Essakane - Berber tents as restaurant room · Excursions and visits as mentioned in the program · (trekking in Dogon cliff: first one: easy; second one: medium Our Dogon guide can offer alternative visits for people who do not want to do trekking · Pass for Essakane

Not included: International flights, · Airport taxes · Meals and services not mentioned · Visa · Travel Insurance · Tips · Personal purchases · Fee to deliver lost luggage







Guide: English speaking guide with deep knowledge of people and places. Local guides as mentioned in the program, in Djenné, Dogon cliff, Douentza and Timbuktu and Essakane.


The weather will be dry and hot during the day and cool in the night, in particular in the desert. We suggest bringing a warm sleeping bag and some warm clothes for your stay in the desert. Don't forget a flashlight, hat, sunscreen, comfortable clothes and walking shoes, and a water bottle.